SucceedGroup - Blog
Posted on July 10, 2015
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen
As a service professional, the challenge is always to make yourself and your firm stand out from the crowd. Are you or your firm in the target markets’ frame of reference when they require the specific services you or your firm offer? Are you “top of mind”?

A common mistake that service professionals make, is to view themselves as experts purely based on their knowledge, experience or expertise. Almost by definition, most professional services firms have some level of specialised expertise. In some cases there are individuals within the firm who can legitimately be thought of as experts, but in most cases the professionals are generalist or at best specialists. While many professionals may be well known to their colleagues inside the firm or even within their respective professions, they remain largely unknown to the larger community of potential clients.

There are, however, a tiny minority of professionals out there that attracts the unfair percentage of the industry’s attention. Their colleagues love them, businesses seek them out for their knowledge and wisdom and they are renowned in the realms of digital and print media for strong opinions on relevant matters. While they may not be household names, these professionals are widely known and admired by their peers. They are sought after. They are regularly featured in local publications, at seminars or conferences. These individuals are widely recognised as experts, and their success is no accident.

How can you position yourself as an expert and achieve broader awareness and recognition in the marketplace you serve? The following are the three key elements at play to become a visible and recognised expert.

1. Knowledge

The first and most important key to being an expert is your knowledge. Whether you specialise in a service or particular issue, your knowledge, expertise and experience commands influence amongst colleagues, peers and your specific target audience. Your knowledge is a key attribute and makes people turn to you for trusted advice and opinion. Whereas a generalist knows something about everything, the specialist or true expert knows a whole lot more than the average professional about a specific field or practice area.

Expertise is built on both formal credentials and the stature of your accomplishments. Most specialists narrowed their service offering by focusing on their own areas of strengths and passions. It is therefore important that you not only build up experience and credentials in a specific field or subject matter, but that you also apply this expertise to specific topics or issues relating to the target market. If your perspective is particularly insightful or provocative it tends to gain traction in the marketplace. Being known as a specialist is the first step in becoming an expert.

2. Personality

Most traditional professionals tend to provide conventional and widely accepted perspectives on topics that are of little immediate interest to their target audience. Their opinion on these matters does little to distinguish them as experts. The second key factor to becoming an expert is to adopt a strong personality. An expert is always actively looking to address complex and controversial issues and the target audience welcomes their expert opinion and perspective. It is important to have the courage, conviction and consistency to address relevant and controversial issues. The expert does not back down from publicly raising their opinion about relevant matters and actively stimulating and engaging in conversations.

3. Publicity

The last key component to be recognised as an expert is that of publicity. An expert without the necessary visibility amongst the target audience will always only remain a specialist. Publicity and visibility are important components to help you build your reputation of being an expert amongst your audiences of interest. Visibility is boosted by the range of places you are seen. If you are active on social media, easily found via search engines, well known in relevant trade associations and often quoted in trade press, you are well on your way to target exceptional audience visibility. As an expert, you need to use a wide array of tools to boost your reputation and express your opinion of relevant issues. With the emergence of various digital marketing tools, it is easier than ever before to build and boost your reputation. You could use any of the following tools to increase your visibility:

• A dedicated or personal website (or microsite)
• Complete and updated LinkedIn profile
• Professional photography for your profile
• Personal biographies in various lengths
• Videos overviewing your expertise or sampling your speaking skills
• Blog posts to regularly express your opinion on relevant or controversial issues
• Position papers or white papers on specific industry related matters
• Newspaper or journal articles
• Research papers
• Books and e-books

By combining your knowledge and personality and by actively engaging in publicity to increase your visibility you are well on your way, as a service professional, to establishing yourself as an Expert. It’s all about focus, careful planning and genuine expertise. If you do it well, the rewards can accelerate not only a career, but also an entire firm.
Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe
When looked upon the first time, the link between employee motivation and performance seems to be quite obvious. That is because every time when we deem a task to be important and valuable to us, we act with a high level of dedication and enthusiasm to its completion. However, the relationship between these two factors are in fact much more complex. Realistically speaking, the duties we have at work can be most of the time tedious, repetitive and quite boring. With that in mind, owners of professional firms need to find creative ways in which to consistently keep their employees motivated. Benefits of motivating your staff include:

• Motivation is generally what energises, maintains and controls behaviour, it acts as a stimulus for desirable actions.

• Raising Employee Efficiency - An employee’s efficiency level is not strictly related to his/her abilities and qualifications. In order to get the very best results, an employee needs to have a perfect balance between ability and willingness. Such balance can lead to an increase in productivity, lower operational costs, and an overall improvement in efficiency, and can only be achieved through motivation.

• Team Harmony – A proper work environment focused on cooperative relationships is highly important for a firms’ success. Not only can it bring stability and profits, but employees will also adapt more easily to changes, which is ultimately in the firms’ benefit.

• Workforce Stability – Stability of the personnel is highly important from a business point of view. Staff will stay loyal to the firm only when they experience a sense of participation. The abilities and potency of staff can be used in their own advantage, but also to the benefit of the firm.

• Lower levels of absenteeism as the employees are content with their working environment.

• Lower levels of staff turnover.

• This can lead to lower training and recruitment costs.

• Content employees give the firm a good reputation – making it easier to recruit the best staff.

If you wish to inspire your personnel, then you need to provide an environment that exudes positive energy. Ensure that all your workers feel that they are an integral contributor to the overall team success. Keep your doors open and keep yourself approachable.
Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe
Today’s professional services marketplace is undergoing considerable change as it adjusts to the introduction of various online marketing tools. While many firms still prefer traditional lead generation techniques such as face-to-face networking, client referrals and sponsorships, recent trends have shown a rapid change in the way buyer select professional services. Firms that ignore these changes do so at their own risk.

The challenge that professional services firms face is that the sales process is more complex than that of the retailers or wholesales. Other than creating awareness by advertising a product at a certain price, making it easy for prospects to evaluate value and quality, professional services have a much harder job to attract the interest of prospective buyers and get them to make contact. Besides having to create awareness, other elements come into play when generating leads: visibility, building trust, educating and nurturing the lead. If any of these elements are neglected, the firm will struggle to convert leads into business.

Lead generation therefore become a process that requires a well-crafted plan. The centerpiece of that plan is a structured lead generation process. When you get it right it will result in a steady flow of qualified leads that result in prime clients.

What is a lead generation process?
A lead generation process describes how you identify, nurture and qualify potential new clients — culminating eventually in a request for proposal. It consists of three components: a) Generating the “raw” lead; b) Nurturing the lead and c) Qualifying the lead. Once a lead shows interest, the partners or sales team still need close the deal through needs analysis, education, and building trust. All three components are critical and many firms stumble because they neglect one of the three.

Start with a well-crafted plan
Lead generation will be effective when it is managed according to a plan. Your plan should address the following aspects:

1. Identifying your target client
The biggest stumbling block for firms is that their target clients are overly broad and they see everyone as their target market. The less specific you are, the more difficult it will be to generate qualified leads. Try to identify the particular type of issue you are best prepared to solve.

2. Know your target client group
Most firms skip this step and do very little to do research about the target clients. Try to learn as much as you can about the challenges and concerns they face, where they turn for help, and what their expectations and questions are.

3. Determine clear qualifying criteria
How do you know when a lead is qualified? Some firms look at budget or perhaps the prospect’s need for a specific services. Other criteria can be: Frustration with their current service provider, perception of value, one stop service needs or specialised service needs.

4. Determinethe specific sequence of lead nurturing
Very often leads show interest, but are not yet ready to make a decision to buy or move from their existing service provider. Consider what sort of information they might be interested in today that would set them up to be a client in the future. How can you begin to establish trust and build rapport now? Monthly electronic newsletters are effective lead nurturing approaches to move early-stage prospects through the pipeline.

Identify online and traditionaltechniques
Online lead generation techniques are gaining rapid ground as they are often less expensive than the more traditional techniques. Here are a few online and traditional techniques to consider:

Online Techniques Traditional Techniques
• Lead generating website
• Search engine optimization(SEO)
• Pay per click advertising (PPC)
• Blogging
• Online white papers, ebooks, kits and guides
• Online networking (social media)
• Online video & webinars
• e-newsletters
• email marketing
• Referrals
• Industry networking events
• Advertising in trade publications
• Speaking engagements
• Articles, white papers and books
• Cold calling
• Trade shows
• Seminars
• Public speaking engagements

6. Track all leads
How will you know if your lead generation process is working? The only way to know for sure is to track a few key variables. Here are some ideas:

• Track lead generation activities. These are the things you do to generate and nurture leads.
• Track the costs associated with each activity.
• Track the number of leads generated by each activity.
• Track leads that convert to proposals for each activity (conversion percentage).
• Track proposals that convert into clients (closing percentage) for each lead source.
• Calculate the cost per client for each source.

Without a plan and a data collection system, it is very easy to cling to tactics that no longer work. Follow these six key steps and your chances of generating qualified leads that turn into profitable clients are greatly improved.
Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Ben vd Westhuyzen
In my opinion internal marketing is almost as important as external marketing. It may be a cliché, but your internal staff are your business, they are a big part of your brand. It is important that each and every employee needs to understand the firm’s direction and vision and really believe and live the brand. A romantic statement, but if they’re not passionate about your brand it will show in their work.

It is probably self-explanatory, however internal marketing is about treating your staff as your customers and communicating clearly, selling the vision of the firm to them. You can take it as far as you want, but at the very least the firm’s strategic objectives and team strategies must be communicated and visible within the firm; this gives everyone direction – and something to be part of.

What’s the purpose of practicing internal marketing?

Internal marketing offers the following benefits:

• It ensures that staff effectively buy in to what the firm wants to achieve and are more effective at what they do.

• Informed staff are usually “engaged” staff – there is a purpose to work for.

• Happy staff equals happy customers.

• Internal marketing helps firms deliver better customer service.

• Employees feel more motivated and experience higher job satisfaction.

• They are empowered to make decisions within certain guidelines and begin to feel more respected and valued for their contributions.

• This feeling leads to a greater sense of belonging to the “team” as well as responsibility and accountability to employers.

• Staff conflict wanes and people have better dispositions at work.

• Firms benefit from higher employee satisfaction and retention.

• Increased compliance with standards and protocols

Now, who wouldn’t want to work for a firm with a culture like the above? And what does it really require? Openness, flexibility, and a desire to do things better for better results. It’s a mindset.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.

Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Emmerentia Fick
In professional services marketing, research shows LinkedIn is the most effective social network for online networking, producing referral traffic and generating qualified leads. Research also shows that professional services firms with the highest growth place the most focus on LinkedIn out of all the major social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Google+).

Many professionals use LinkedIn on a fundamental and basic level. You may have created your profile, joined a few groups, connected with friends and colleagues, and checked who has viewed your profile or recruited professionals for your firm. These are all helpful techniques, but the challenge is to take your LinkedIn efforts to the next level. Here are two strategies to consider:

1.Use LinkedIn as a top promotional outlet of quality content

You have probably built up a LinkedIn page, included your levels of expertise, firm info, services and brand promise. You’ve given the visitor a clear picture of who you and your firm is. This is a good start. But in order to fully leverage LinkedIn, you need to think of it as one of your top promotional outlets of quality content. This means sharing and promoting your content, events and thought leadership across LinkedIn – including in groups and across employees’ profiles as much as possible. The goal, of course, is to have your LinkedIn referral traffic convert – to sign up for a newsletter, register for an event, download an article, or take an action that moves potential leads further along the sales funnel. This benefits your firm as you grow your email list and LinkedIn followers, but also benefits the user as they receive relevant, educational material. How do you know what to share? Think of it this way: you can share and promote anything on LinkedIn that you might also share through email marketing or on your website. Leveraging more than one channel will increase your conversions, website traffic, and develop your brand’s online reputation and visibility.

2. Increase your activity in groups

It is not enough to passively join a LinkedIn group of many members. This is like being the tiniest voice in a huge crowd. You will get the most return on your LinkedIn investment if you increase your commitment to group participation – and do so by choosing groups where you can increase your visibility. How can you increase group participation? Become one of the “top contributors” to a group.

The goal is to start captivating discussions and contribute thought-provoking comments that encourage responses. Those who initiate the most interaction are more likely to become a top contributor. And the more interaction you take part in, the higher your visibility – both for you as an individual and for your firm. The second aspect of visibility within a group is to choose the right sized group. Choosing the right sized group depends on your firm, of course. We’ve found that groups with a few hundred to a few thousand members to be the most beneficial. You see substantial interaction with other professionals in your industry, but the group isn’t so large that your discussion thread becomes lost after two hours.

LinkedIn is much more than a social media hub for seeing who has viewed your profile (yes, we’re all guilty). By leveraging this networking platform as a place to cross-share all your marketing activities and content and thoughtfully increasing group activity, you can substantially increase your LinkedIn ROI.

Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Francois Pretorius
When clients turn out to be a headache rather than a value to your business, it's time to consider letting them go. Abusive clients or those with excessive demands who are not bringing your firm significant revenue are a drain on firm resources and morale and may prevent you from focusing on your more profitable clients. Showing unwanted clients the door allows you to focus on those clients who are actually worth your business's time.

Talk with the client - Let the unwanted client know where he or she stands. Sometimes you may be able to salvage a relationship if you let the client know that the relationship is not considered mutually beneficial. Your client will either leave on his own accord or try to repair the relationship if he considers it worth salvaging. For example, a late-paying client may start getting payments in on time if he really likes your firm's products or services.

Let the client down gently - If you have no intentions of keeping the client, let them go, especially if the client is abusive to your staff. You'll improve employee morale for cutting ties with a client who makes a habit of belittling anyone in your firm. However, if the client is just a resource drain, offer other businesses that may be able to give the client what they seek. You want to sever relationships that are not mutually beneficial as painlessly as possible so the client will have options to look elsewhere for similar legal services. Helping facilitate a smooth transition for these types of clients will leave a much better impression of your firm than simply asking the client to leave. You may even get a referral for handling the separation with empathy and tact.

Aid the transition - If the client does have an interest in doing business with one of your referrals, notify that business of what it should expect. If the business your unwanted client is being referred to agrees to take him on, the firm may be able to start off on the right note with that client by paying attention to certain cues. Sometimes it's all about relationships. What may be a headache of a client for your firm may be a gem of a client to another.

Once you've gotten rid of your unwanted clients, you'll want to evaluate what things your firm can change to eliminate or lessen the potential of acquiring these types of clients in future. Maybe you need to increase fees, set new late-payment deadlines or outline a clearer policy for client-employee interaction. Make the necessary adjustments so your business can get back to exceeding the expectations of those clients who do a superior job of keeping your firm afloat.

Compiled by Emmerentia Fick
From a digital marketing point of view, there is a significant difference between an electronic newsletter and an electronic campaign. In short, an electronic campaign is more focused on communicating a single message with a specific call to action whereas an electronic newsletter will focus on a number of topics and is more centered on educating and informing clients, which in turn, builds rapport and loyalty.

Newsletters present firms with a great opportunity. When you offer your readers real value, they will reciprocate by offering you a slice of their attention. It therefore makes sense to keep newsletters separate from your campaigns.

A good newsletter will include the following:

• Added value articles which informs the client about subjects they may be interested in. This provides links back to the website where they can read the complete articles – thereby spending more time on your blog.

• Information them about upcoming events that may be of interest and that your firm is involved in.

• Announcements on a new service you are introducing.

• Testimonials from a recent client you have worked with or a case study.

• Ways that people can connect with your business on social media so that you can maintain engagement.

• Good call to actions that tell the readers what to do next i.e. read more here, register here, to learn more etc.

When creating this content, you need to be focused on giving your clients information that informs, entertains, adds value and ultimately answers their questions.

A successful marketing campaign, on the other hand, is well-thought-out, focused on details and embodies the following characteristics:

Clear and single-minded. The core message, regardless of the media platform, is easy to understand and based on one core insight.

Relevant. When exposed to the campaign, people in the target audience feel that "It is for people like me."

Tangible. The call to action is clear, so people know right away what you are asking them to do.

Emotional. In most cases, information alone is not inherently motivating. Effective campaigns appeal to people’s emotions as much if not more than their rational side.

Campaigns that are clear, relevant, action-oriented, and emotional are more likely to have the desired effect—in most cases, to influence people to change a behavior that benefits themselves, their families, or their community. Here are some key numbers to remember when embarking on an electronic campaign:

40 percent of the impact of the campaign comes from sending it to the right client database in the first place. A well develop and segmented mailing list is vital. Segmentation is the process of dividing a market segment into distinct manageable groups of clients that are likely to behave in a similar manner or share a similar set of needs or characteristics. Audiences are influenced in different ways by different types of content. If you offer numerous service, or are targeting more than one group, then it makes sense to divide your audience into small segments so that you can market specific services to specific groups, or craft your message to suit the characteristics of the different segments. Although segmenting your list takes more time and effort, it does not need to be a daunting task. Even the most basic segmenting will result in significantly higher conversion rates.

40 percent comes from the value of the offer. The engagement process can begin when you offer something of value to the client. By giving clients something that they deem to have worth, you are building trust from the beginning and positioning yourself as an authority figure. Ask for something in return. Sometimes you might want to provide something of value to clients in exchange for submitting some simple information that can be used to build your marketing list.

20 percent comes from the design or writing of the piece. A campaign is normally in a different format than your newsletter. You need to create a direct message with a strong offer that will spur the recipient to action. What do you want the recipient to do next? Your goal is to get action and not just to inform. You can get creative with catchy wording and graphics. Your goal is to get the reader to respond.

Lastly, always remember to analyse the results of the campaign. Here are a few important questions to ask: Did the final results match what you expected? What parts of the demographic responded better than expected? Are there subsets of your target audience that you can focus on in future mailings?

Where newsletters aim to increase awareness and strengthen positioning, every campaign you run aims to contribute not only to your turn over figures but also to enhancing your client database. Using both as part of your marketing plan, will surely benefit your overall marketing ROI.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.

Posted in Business Relations | Tagged Sample
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe
Traditionally, lead generation was centered on cold calling, chasing referrals and active networking. Even though there is still a place for these tried and tested lead generation techniques, the emergence of online marketing platforms have however dramatically changed the way firms attract new clients. There is a major change in consumer behavior and the way they use technology to find potential service providers. Recent research studies have shown that about 80% of people (potential clients) use online platforms like websites, blogs and videos to search out and learn more about a firm before making contact. Potential clients go online to educate themselves around a specific need they have, find potential firms that can address those needs and to check out those firms to see if they are a suitable option as service provider. As professional services firms adjust their marketing tactics to generate leads through online platforms, it is important to ask this question: Who is our target market? By asking this question, we can adjust our marketing approach, focus and message in order to attract better quality leads.

If you want to grow your firm faster and be more profitable, one of the key disciplines you need to master is better client targeting. A well-defined and well-understood target market helps you align your marketing tools and marketing message for better lead generation. Here are seven key questions you must be able to answer positively to maximise the positive impact of client targeting.

1. Have you analysed your existing clients to determine how to define your best target marget? Your current clients are usually the best place to start when defining your ideal target market. Aspect to consider are profitability, compatibility with your firm and team and long term loyalty. In short, you are looking for what is already working. This step will help you make sure you are targeting the right type of clients.

2. Do you understand their problems, concerns, hopes and daily reality? This is a challenging question, but really pay dividends when well thought through. Many firms only focus on demographics (age, geographics, income levels, etc.). Try to put yourself in the clients’ shoes to understand what feelings and needs drive their buying behaviour. When you understand the pressures and problems your target market is experiencing, you can develop service offerings that will make their lives easier.

3. Can you get specific about your target market? If you have sufficient information to describe your target clients in detail, you are more likely to find and attract qualified prospects. This knowledge will help your entire marketing program – from brand development to your marketing plan. Questions 2 and 3 will help you to create a suitable message when communicating via email marketing, your website or newsletters.

4. Do you conduct research on your clients to anticipate their needs and uncover trends? Formal, systematic and structured research (not to be confused with the “informal research” many of us do on our clients) will put you in a position to understand the trends affecting your clients. The importance of research is often overlooked. Formal research allows you to anticipate what services your target market is likely to need and therefore position yourself to offer those services in advance of your competitors. This is more pro-active approach than constantly reacting to the market.

5. Can you identify the best channels to communicate with your target market? The previous questions focused on developing better targeting and a more focused message. By answering this question you will be able to better deliver that message. Where do your target clients get their information? Which blogs do they read? What associations do they belong to? If you don’t know the answer to these questions you will be less effective reaching your best prospects.

6. Does your firm have credibility with your target market? Without credibility, you will struggle to attract attention and interest. Building credibility takes time. Start by ensuring that you create quality website and blog content. Also consider using case studies, client references and personal branding of directors or partners.

7. Have they heard of your firm? This final point addresses visibility. You may have a great reputation, but if only a few people in your target market have heard of your firm, you will have limited traction. Visibility is one of the easier problems to solve if you understand your specific target well, have a credible and informative message, and understand where your customers turn for information.

Make the time and effort to identify and know your target market. It is the starting point for more effective lead generation and lead nurturing plan.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.
Posted in Client Service | Tagged sample, sample
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